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Old 08-29-2015, 02:02 PM   #1
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So Sioux me

I’m in Albuquerque, wearing my Wyoming Cowboys tee shirt, the one with the brown shoulders. I am at the checkout counter of a hardware store. Was about to pay for a couple 40 packs of number 6 paper coffee filters for my Melita. (Upcoming ET19 trip.) I see a guy walks into the store and then he stops to look me over. He is really looking me over, like he knows me. The guy is nearly my height but is much more heavy set. I pay the clerk. He approaches me, asks if I am from Wyoming. I think, Huh?

His beefy face is darkly reddish skinned, very broad, a smiling, really sun-dried tomato. We are otherwise similar, formidable physical specimens. Long black hair tied behind his neck. I’d lost all mine. I’m maybe dozen-twenty years older than him, certainly more good looking. It is evident my Wyoming tee shirt got him curious, maybe hoping to meet kin from the Great Prairie.

I prefer my tee shirts plain. Sometimes though, it makes me feel good to broadcast an association to favorite places. I get it a lot: “Oh, Cape Cod, are you from there? No, I just wear the shirt. Oh, Notre Dame, did you go there? No, I just...” Well… some people just won’t leave you alone. Have no hesitation wearing my Sequoia NP sweatshirt because it is self-explanatory.

Engagements with strangers not my thing but this guy seemed to mean no harm. I grew up tall and skinny on the east coast; summers leery of rip tides at the Jersey shore, fighting mosquitoes, keeping clear of rude ethnic gangs. I’ve been befriended and bullied, by my kind and by others. Years later discovered beer and filled out significantly. New Mexico is a place the polar opposite of all I once held dear. It is all tumbleweed, big skies, cowboys, Indians, horses. I like that. I own a cowboy hat, something every true (northern) Jersey boy would think is insane. So this guy, this stranger who approached me in that store, was to me exotic, like nothing from Jersey, or the moon, but close.

Spontaneous conversation with total strangers is not my thing in a hardware store. But he got me curious. Never spoke socially with a true Native American before. Am I from Wyoming? No, “I got the shirt while trailer camping in Wyoming. Great price, I say, couldn’t pass it up, a mere fourteen bucks boondocking in a Cody WalMart.” Feeling collegial, I add, “You from up there?”

The name North Dakota comes from a Siouan Indian word meaning “friendly” or “allied.” Here would be a good place to add, there are four federally recognized Indian tribes in North Dakota today incorporating the Arikara tribe, the Nakoda, the Chippewa, the Hidatsa, Lakota and Dakota Sioux, and the Mandan tribe. I looked it up.

Wow! Ethnic diversity, a never tiresome experience, like the Great Plains so wide, so wide open. I must get out more. Being old, cranky, suspicious and isolated is bad. Old, can’t fix, but alert, curious and outgoing is doable. I was buffaloed by my brief encounter with this guy, so much so that I had to write this down.

He said no, he was not from Wyoming, but his dad was from the Great Plains in North Dakota, near Medora, I think. Meeting over, we smiled, went about our business. He must have been a Dakota Sioux.
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"A billion here, a billion there...add it all up and before you know it you're talking real money." Everett Dirkson
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Old 08-29-2015, 02:19 PM   #2
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Love the authentic, sacred, American Indian billboard.

What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
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Old 08-29-2015, 03:02 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MyronL View Post

We are otherwise similar, formidable physical specimens.
That you are Myron

Great narrative and nice to see the amount of use you're getting from your Escape.

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Old 08-29-2015, 03:22 PM   #4
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Myron, you always have the best travel stories!
Donna D.
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Old 08-29-2015, 03:50 PM   #5
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I love the way you write . As good as some of my other favourite travel writers. More, please?

Happy trails.
Lotar & Wendy
"Sit loosely in the saddle of life" (Robert Louis Stevenson)
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Old 08-29-2015, 07:42 PM   #6
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Native Americans

I have spent considerable time in the land of the Sioux and many of the other Plains Indian and northern Rocky Mountain tribes. Their history, relationship with the land and native flora and fauna has fascinated me for 60 years. I do prefer the Canadian terminology of recognizing these folks as First Nation Peoples. I have had a number of encounters with Sioux people, all positive. . A couple of other groups, not as much but still very acceptable.
It's sure hard to discuss ethnic groups, native Americans, and other groups of people without offending someone. I worked for a guy who was very proud of his German ancestry, I am Czech and Irish. And we both worked for an African American. We had many many discussions comparing our cultures, laughing at stereotypes and kidding each other about our shortcomings. Unfortunately that is not common enough in our culture today. If it were we'd all be better off and happier. Ought to make a tee shirt that says my folks came to America, and I'm very lucky to have this shirt on my back.
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Old 08-30-2015, 12:32 AM   #7
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Completely agree with all the sentiments here ....
All things in life are easier to swallow with a good cup of tea .....
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Old 08-30-2015, 12:36 AM   #8
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Wow, niece piece, Myron. Thanks for sharing your experience. Well done.
doug, sooz & the furfoots
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Old 08-30-2015, 11:00 AM   #9
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I must have missed this thread for being too busy last week. Nice post Myron.
"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy an RV. And that is pretty close."
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Old 08-30-2015, 11:01 AM   #10
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Great post, Myron, loved it!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
–– C.S. Lewis
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